Improve Your SEO With WordPress Permalinks
What Are Permalinks?
A permalink is the URL or web address of a WordPress page or post. Whenever someone wants to share a page from your site, that person will use the permalink of that page. As the term implies, a permalink should be permanent. If you change the permalink of a post or page, you may lose existing inbound links to it.
Permalinks can improve search engine rankings if you know how to optimize them. Search engines weigh many factors to deliver the most relevant results to their users; one of these factors is URL structure. If your web page URLs contain your targeted keywords, those pages may rank higher in search results.
How to Customize Your Permalinks
The default permalink structure in WordPress looks like this:
where “N” stands for the post or page ID. As you may imagine, it is not SEO-friendly. To optimize your URLs for your target keywords, you need to change the default structure.
Follow these steps to modify your WordPress permalink settings:
- Log in to your WordPress site with your administrator account.
- From the dashboard, click Settings > Permalinks.
- Under Common Settings, select Post Name. Or select Custom Structure and type /%postname%/ in the input field (if it isn’t there already).
- Click Save Changes.
From now on, whenever you create a new post or page, WordPress will generate a URL based on its title. For instance, if you write a post entitled “WordPress Permalinks Basics,” the default post URL will look like this:
which is a lot prettier than
Changing the Post URLs for SEO
To exploit the “post name” permalink structure for SEO purposes, include your target keywords in them. When you compose a new post in the WordPress post editor, type a keyword-rich title for the post in the title field. A default permalink will appear below the title.
If you want to modify the default permalink for a post, click Edit while in the post editor.
You may wish to edit the default permalink of a post to remove stop words such as “a” and “and,” or to shorten long URLs.
Suppose you are writing a new blog post entitled “A Guide to Free WordPress SEO Plugins.”
Instead of a-guide-to-free-wordpress-seo-plugins, you can simplify it to free-wordpress-seo-plugins.
Permalinks in Existing Posts and Pages
There are a few things to keep in mind when you change your site’s permalink structure.
If your WordPress site uses the default /?p=N permalink structure, you can switch to the “post name” structure without any problem; WordPress will automatically redirect old post URLs to the new ones.
If your site uses another format such as Day and Name or Month and Name (as shown in Permalink Settings), add a redirect code to your blog, or else users will get “404” error messages.
If you publish a post using the “post name” permalink structure, do not to change it afterward. Changing the URL of a published post may cause you to lose incoming links to it. If you really want to change existing permalinks, use a plugin to monitor your blog for dead links and redirect old URLs.
WordPress Permalinks Tips
- Keep your URLs short. Long web addresses look ugly and do not help with your search engine rankings.
- Use your target keywords, but do not go overboard. Overusing keywords in your URLs can negatively affect your rankings.
- Check your spelling when editing your post! Mistyped URLs are common.
- Do not worry about using exact keywords. Google can identify related words such as “redirect” and redirection.” If anything, you want your post URLs to look natural (as in, not over-optimized).